On January 5, 2023, CJPME learned that the National NewsMedia Council (an ethics body in Canada) sided with us in regard to a complaint against an article in the Niagara Independent. You can read the original letter of complaint here.
The Niagara Independent newspaper published a racist article by Chris George with false claims and hateful language. The paper categorized the article as “News.” After a CJPME complaint, the paper re-categorized the article as “Opinion” and made corrections, like deleting references to babies beheaded by Hamas, which there is no evidence of. However, despite these major changes, no editor’s note was added to the article to inform the reader of the changes. It is imperative that when editors make notable changes, notes are added to make it obvious to the reader.
CJPME filed a complaint with the NNC about the failure to add an editor’s note. In a recent email, the NNC informed both CJPME and Niagara Independent that the newspaper should add an editor’s note. Despite the NNC’s clear recommendation, the Niagara Independent has still not yet added an editor’s note. This is a stain on their journalism.
The NNC was clear, writing:
We would agree with you that content should be labelled appropriately and best practice is to include an editor's note alerting readers to any changes that have been made….
NNC would emphasize to the news organization, copied here, that articles should be labelled appropriately at first instance and any changes made should be clearly explained to readers for the sake of transparency.
Unfortunately, the NNC did not make this situation a formal case for their website database. Their opinion was only given via email. CJPME is disappointed by the NNC’s failure to make a formal decision despite their clear indications that ethics were violated in this case. That said, we are glad that the NNC has affirmed CJPME’s position that the Niagara Independent is acting inappropriately.